By S P Griffin
Starting a youngster out with a shotgun can be a great experience for both of you. If you follow a few guidelines, you can help ensure that you pour a solid foundation. A foundation that will be the basis of a lifetime of hunting and shooting.
I'm not going to try to tell you what age to start kids out hunting or shotgunning. I feel that every kid is unique and only you can decide when your son or daughter is ready. Things like maturity, size, and desire are all things to consider before making the investment. My ten year old wanted to go hunting so bad this year, he was willing to do anything to get a shotgun.
Gun safety is the most important thing you can teach your kids. Kids see a lot of killing on TV and on the video games they play, yet they just don't realize how dangerous a gun really is. We must instill in them safe practices until it becomes habit. Start with how to carry the shotgun with much focus on where the barrel is pointed at all times. Next move to how to work the safety on the shotgun. The only time the gun is taken off of safety is when the shotgun is mounted and ready to fire. After some practice with handling the shotgun, move on to loading instructions and firing. The key here is to let them know gun safety is no joke, and if they are unsafe, they will lose their privilege to have a gun. Remember, we as experienced hunters, must set the example when it comes to safety.
Also critical to success is the gauge of shotgun you buy your child. Specifically, how much recoil they can handle. Let's face it, a kid is not going to want to do something if it hurts every time they do it. So buying a ten year old a cheap 12 gauge is probably a mistake. I bought my 13 year old a youth model 20 gauge, and my 10 year old a youth model .410. Both of my sons are average height and weight and I have had no complaints from either one about recoil. My oldest is a couple of years away from moving up to a 12 gauge in my estimation, and then I'll hand down his 20 ga. and the .410 to my now 6 year old. The idea here is to build confidence with a shotgun they can handle that won't make them flinch every time they pull the trigger.
Next is practice, practice, practice. Unless you have acreage, you'll need a place for them to shoot. I recommend starting them out shooting skeet. The controlled environment allows you to help them every step of the way their first round. Try to plan their first shoot for a time when the range isn't too busy to help relieve some of their anxiety. Keep all of your instructions and pointers positive, making every effort to keep their confidence level high. I always reflect on how bad I was when I first started, to let my boys know that it's okay to miss and that's why we practice.
I encourage the two of them to only compete with themselves, trying to better their own scores each time, for now. Later we can get into the sport of competing against everyone. Fundamentals is what your are after here. Properly mounting the shotgun, following through the shot and seeing the target. Of course, on the very first round, you'll be dealing with every aspect from handling the gun, to loading and unloading, and shooting. Not to mention, all of their nerves that come along with the first shoot.
After I took my ten-year-old out for his first round, in which he only hit a few, he told me that was one of the funniest things he had ever done. I made a big deal of the targets he hit and it inspired him to do better. Now just a few rounds later he consistently hits 10-13 clays with his single shot .410. Not too shabby.
Confidence is the key to any shotgunner, but especially with kids. If your kids are like mine and they have to be good at everything, keeping their dobber up is sometimes tough starting out. Concentrate on the good things they do, and reinforce, positively, the areas they need improvement in.
The average age of hunters in the US is 49 years old. We need all the young hunters we can get, so they can pass the traditions on for generations to come.
Hello, my name is S P Griffin and I've recently started a blog about dove hunting, hunting dogs, and shotguns. It's kind of ironic that the name is Dove, Dogs, and Shotguns isn't it? At http://www.dovehunting101.com/ you can find everything from how to articles on hunting, shooting, dog training, to hunting supplies and accessories. Check it out and feel free to leave your comments about the site.
Article Source: Tips on Starting Kids Out Shotgunning